Teaching Strategies for Effective Group Work

Ten Research-Based Steps for Effective Group Work

IDEA Paper #65 • August, 2017 by Linda C. Hodges from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County

A suggestion for achieving active learning in classrooms and studios often involve students working in groups. There are many advantage of this pedagogical approach, which include: students developing metacognition, applying concepts and solving problems collaboratively, improving critical thinking and getting support from peers.  Group work can also be quite challenging to manage, as it involves complex cognitive and affective elements of human social interactions.

The 10 research based practices shared in this article are the following:

  1. Clarify Your Learning Goals for Group Work
  2. Be Transparent with Your Students about Your Reasons for Using Groups
  3. Be Proactive in Anticipating and Addressing Student Resistance
  4. Help Students Maximize Their Experience in Groups by Prompting Good Group Practices
  5. Based on your Learning Goals, Decide Between Using Casual Groups or Structured Teams
  6. Form Groups in Ways that Fit Your Goals
  7. Design Group Assignments Worthy of a Group Effort
  8. Consider Factoring Group Work into Your Grading Scheme
  9. Help Students Recognize and Reflect on Their Learning from the Group
  10. Close the Loop in Your Course Design by Assessing the Use of Groups in Your Class

Additional resources and strategies for faculty on group or team work:

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